Friday, July 21, 2006

Bono on Grace
I've just finished reading Bono in Conversation (Riverhead 2005), a collection of interviews between the U2 frontman and his long-time friend Michka Assayas, a French writer. It is a wonderful read, with much to ponder. Many passages made me laugh out loud, and others made me think. Lots of revealing stuff about the history of U2. Bono's childhood, and his work in Africa. But I was most struck by Bono's profound understanding of the difference between the theological concepts of Gospel and Law, which he names Grace and Karma, something I've been thinking a lot about lateley. Bono is deeply aware of his own need and just as aware of God's remedy. I'm posting the exchange here (Assayas's questions in bold):

Assayas: As I told you, I think I am beginning to understand religion because I have started acting and thinking like a father. What do you make of that?

Bono: Yes, I think it’s normal. It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

I haven’t heard you talk about that.

I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma and into one of Grace.

Well, that doesn’t make it clearer for me.

You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the Universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “As you reap, so will you sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

I’d be interested to hear that.

That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going it finally be my judge. I’d be in deep trouble. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

The son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.

But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world so that what we put out does not come back to us, that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled… It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of Heaven.

1 comment:

Matt Ramsey said...

Awesome quote!
I came across your blog - great stuff here. I hope we can visit face to face before too long....
Miss you guys.

M